Is it a bad day at work or just a bad job?

Thinking about your next career move - useful blogs

Deciding that you want to move to a new position is a bold step and one not to be taken lightly. It may be for career progression, which is OK, but when it’s because of a feeling of discontent – for whatever reason – you must take time to think it through rationally and even consult others before forcing yourself to take a plunge you might regret.

Starting a new job can be a hugely exciting experience, but one in which the realities of the first day sometimes don’t quite match your expectations – or indeed what you were led to believe at interview! Do you immediately quit? Well, unless the situation is so dire, or perhaps your personal safety is at risk, the answer is almost certainly No. You may swallow hard, but then look around you and just ‘get on with it’ in the hope that things are probably not as bad as they seem and will get better; but you’re not simply going to walk out.

If this feeling of disillusionment persists, without any signs of an improvement, then it’s up to you to sort the situation; after all, you’re the affected one, right? If your immediate boss or manager is not the source of the problem (in your eyes), then they should be the first person to approach. People will often hesitate at this point because they dislike confrontation or simply don’t want to seem like a ‘moaner’. However, it can help a lot if you start the discussion by saying you’re looking for their help and advice, to which they’re almost bound to respond positively and immediately guide the conversation accordingly. The outcome(s) may include: you’re effecting a change in local policy, or possibly a transfer to another department or operational area. 90% of work-related issues will be resolved right there. However, only the absolute last resort, even if the situation seems at first that it cannot be fixed, is a decision to move on. 

The term ‘culture fit’ can be misunderstood, apparent lack of which (on both sides) leading to another form of disillusionment. It can become an excuse, but usually sorted if an individual or organisation is prepared to at least recognise the ‘culture’ of the other. In football, for example, a player who transfers to another team might not at first appreciate the team culture – generally driven by the manager – but will gain the support of their new team members in seeing how to get the best from themselves. So, they (and you) should never feel alone.

When it comes to a ‘Bad Day’ – then we all have those. And the way life works, a bad day is usually followed by a good one. A ‘Bad Day’ is often the result of things not going to plan: a ‘slam-dunk’ sale goes down the drain; the ‘fantastic’ presentation you prepared gets a poor response; you have an argument with a close colleague or line manager. So yes - a bad day. But it’s a bad day, not a week, or even a month. (If the latter, then you’re into ‘disillusionment’ territory and the solution is outlined above.)

Few people leap out of bed in the mornings, gleefully anticipating another day at work. But you should be able to enjoy your work, your surroundings and fellow workers enough to be happy to stay where you are and enjoy your achievements – however large or small.

There can be various reasons you may decide it is time to move on, but they may include a feeling of general discontentment - itself brought on by different factors. Don’t worry, this is quite common but what you must do is take stock and avoid the initial ‘knee-jerk’ reaction.

Speak to your immediate manager. Ask for help and advice, and they will not only be pleased to give it, they will probably want to monitor the situation going forward.

Simply changing jobs, or even moving department, is rarely the ideal option at this stage and you will benefit from that more pragmatic thinking in the long run. 2021 and beyond is going to be roller sitting tight and riding it out maybe be your best option.

Key Points

  • Identify the real reason for your discontent
  • Consult with your immediate boss or manager
  • Only then, take colleagues into your confidence – but positively
  • Be prepared to take the long view

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